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Album Review

Seven years after Uh-Oh!, Tipsy returned with Buzzz, their first album for Mike Patton's Ipecac label. Ipecac is as close to a perfect home for Tipsy's genre-bending, utterly distinctive mood music as there could be, fitting in with the label's other unique, largely instrumental acts like Kaada and Patton's own Fantômas project. Tipsy's comeback is as swank and strange as their earlier work, but Buzzz is a shade less surreally spacy than Trip Tease, slightly less sprawling than Uh-Oh!, and less loop-based than either of those albums. None of this means Buzzz is simple or minimal-sounding, however. Tipsy take their fun seriously, and a lot of work goes into their twisted easy listening. "Sweet Spot"'s twangy guitars, tumbling pianos, and wall-to-wall synths and "Chop Socky"'s ratcheting percussion are almost visual in the way the sounds pop in and out and bounce up and down, and they're so intricately and subtly layered that it's easy to understand why they took a while to piece together. The album opens with some Trip Tease-esque perversions of '50s and '60s lounge: the bubbly "Midnight Party" could soundtrack an after-party in a mad scientist's laboratory; "A Night on the Town" shifts ever so gradually from fizzy glamour to madcap chase music; and "Swingin' Spaceman" pairs Vince Guaraldi-style pianos with ray gun-like synths and a lurching bassline. As Buzzz unfolds, however, so do shades of Uh-Oh!'s eclecticism. "Lipstick Tree"'s big, funky bass and saxophones and "Chocolate Moon"'s fluttering strings and flutes and fuzzy guitars nod to late-'60s/early-'70s novelty music as well as adult movie soundtracks of the time like Vampyros Lesbos. The album gets more exotic and erotic with Japanese singer Coppé's vocals, which take Buzzz's second half in a direction so hallucinatory and sensual that it's too bad Tipsy already used the title Trip Tease. "Kitty's Daydream," "Wet Rainbow," and "Up 'Til Dawn" are the audio equivalent of bubble baths, mellow, flowing, and unabashedly feminine; even more active tracks, such as the brassy "Kadonka" and "Hot Banana" — which plays like a twisted sister of the theme to I Dream of Jeannie — have an unmistakably girlish quirkiness to them. At first, the very different moods of Buzzz's halves make it feel like two mini-albums stitched together, but whatever approach Tipsy take or how long it takes for them to make their music, it's still so distinctive that it's timeless.


Formed: 1995 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Brought together by their shared fascination for experimental music and noise, the San Francisco-based lounge-collage duo Tipsy consists of Tim Digulla and David Gardner. Previously, Gardner worked with sonic manipulators like PGR and Big City Orchestra; Digulla began recording noise projects on his walkman while in junior high under the name No One. He continued his experiments in the San Francisco noise scene, through which he connected with Gardner at a warehouse sound event. Interested in the...
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Buzzz, Tipsy
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